Notes from July Meeting – Short Term Rentals, WTF? – What’s the Future?

President Susan Peinado called the meeting to order at 4:03 PM.

Welcome and Introduction of Elected Officials and Candidates
Susan welcomed and introduced guests including new members Deborah Currier, Justin DeCesare and Kaitelyn Hailey. She also welcomed candidates, including Rafael Castellanos, who is running for City Attorney. Rafael provided an overview of his candidacy and campaign.

Program: Short Term Rentals, WTF? – What’s the Future?
Susan welcomed and introduced the moderator, Omar Passons, attorney at Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, a firm that concentrates on construction law and land use. She provided a brief overview of the focus of the panel on short-term rentals in our area. TOT maps reveal alarming growth of more than 400 Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVR) units in just three months in San Diego neighborhoods (2,315 units available on January 15, 2015 vs. 2,738 units available on April 30, 2015).

From the website [Used with permission]
From the website [Used with permission]
Omar Passons @omarpassons reported that the San Diego municipal code does not currently define a short-term vacation rental and that ordinance and formal definitions would soon be introduced by City Council. There is a ‘border and lodger’ definition (generally stays are more than 30 day stay) and a ‘bed and breakfast’ definition (generally stays are less than 30 day stay, but this is not within the code) within the code and he shared these codes with attendees. For purposes of our conversation today, STVR will mean the renting of any portion of your property for less than 30 days.

The panelists provided 2 minutes of commentary and background:

  • Belinda Smith @lindismith, Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego. Belinda stated that there are 200 members of her Alliance and that the vast majority desire a simple transparent mechanism to pay the City taxes affiliated with their rentals. San Diego City has a new deal with AirBnB for the company to pay the approximate 11% TOT tax directly to the City. The City of San Francisco has a similar agreement with AirBnB and has been receiving $1 million a month from AirBnB. Her closing remarks stated that we need to embrace density and address the 30 foot height limit in order to better address housing affordability.
  • John Anderson @j_p_a_North Park homemaker and AirBnB host. Founding member of the San Diego Short Term Rental Alliance and Bike San Diego board member. John spoke to the benefits of using AirBnB for accommodations, and touched upon the new ‘sharing economy.’ John reported that they rent out their small cottage on their property for economic reasons and benefits. In his closing remarks, he stated that we need to be mindful of our rights in how we utilize our houses and property.
  • Joe LaCava @joe_lacavaclubmember, Chair of the San Diego Community Planners Committee and candidate for San Diego City Council District 1. Joe believes we have two different kinds of regulations that are needed: quality of life regulations and economic regulations. Joe warned that investors and big money interests are coming in to kick out community members that are renters in order to book more STVRs. In his closing remarks, he stated that he doesn’t know of another City that spends more time kicking policy down the road and thus not allowing people to be on the same page and understand their investments.
  • Gil Cabrera @gilcabreraOwner, the Cabrera Firm, APC and candidate for San Diego City Attorney. Gil stated that while the City Attorney office shouldn’t be driving policy, we’re trying to shoe horn STVR into bed-and-breakfast descriptions, which doesn’t equate to fair enforcement. The municipal code must be amended to include STVR at the City Council. In his closing remarks, Gil stated that we’ve too long let private interests negotiate our public interests behind a veil, and that he will bring transparency to these negotiations.
  • Giovanni Ingolia @IngoliaGiovanniCo-Chair of the OB Community Plan update sub-committee, has served 8 years on the OB Planning Board and former chair. Giovanni raised concerns about zoning issues in communities whereby single family homes are becoming vacation rentals and de facto hotels and pushing out affordable housing. He said the new policy should protect our affordable housing stock and protect our quality of life. In his closing remarks, Gio stated that he hopes the City Council will also seek the approval and feedback of the local community planning groups, and that the policy must protect local renters.
  • Eric Murphy @UNITEHERE30, Research Analyst for UNITE-HERE Local 30, a union of more than 4,500 hotel and food service workers in the San Diego area. He stated that there is a difference between ‘owners on site’ and ‘owners off site,’ which affects community quality of life in that it creates mini hotels and pushes out community renters. Eric stated that in LA, 89% of AirBnB’s revenue is derived from owners-off site. He warned of AirBnB’s power dynamics and that of investors, which could also drive down wages of hotel workers and cleaning persons. In his closing remarks, Eric cautioned the systemic market affects of giant corporations on our local communities.

An audience member asked about STVR and why the City recognizes them under the B&B code to receive taxes, but doesn’t recognize these entities in the zoning code to protect community quality of life. Joe LaCava stated that this is because the City cares more about money than it does about neighborhoods. Gil Cabrera stated that it also shows the power of the enforcer to pick and choose what gets regulated and enforced.

An audience member asked for the industry perspective on how to protect affordable housing. John Anderson, stating that he doesn’t represent the AirBnB industry, replied that what what is absent from today’s conversation is the number of empty/vacant units in the City of San Diego, of which there are more parcels than there are STVRs. He also stated that the 30-foot height limit has impacted affordable housing stock.

José Caballero, candidate for District 7, questioned why City Council doesn’t just define STVR and include a provision to ban investment properties that are STVR. Discussion ensued.

Mary Orem, OB Property Owner and investor, stated her reasoning for operating a short-term vacation rentals – she stated that investors shouldn’t be negatively targeted within the municipal code.

In response to a question from the audience, Gil Cabrera stated that the Coastal Commission will likely not approve an outright ban of STVRs because of their work and mission to preserve access to the coast.

An audience member raised concerns about the affect of STVRs on local schools and their enrollment.

[This month’s Podcast features a recording of the meeting. Subscribe here to automatically download or you can listen directly.]

Old Business
Endorsement questionnaire, policies and procedures. Dev Zaveri, Chair of our Point Loma Democratic Club Endorsement Committee, presented the draft endorsement process. She shared the draft with the Club and stated the club will vote to adopt the endorsement policy and questionnaire at our September meeting.

New Business
New Membership Chair
Susan introduced our new Membership Chair, Jonathan Wubbolding.

Summer Potluck & BBQ
– new pricing $10/members; $20/non-members – everyone bring a dish!
John Loughlin presented the new pricing scheme and instructed all attendees to bring a dish.

Upcoming Events and Announcements
Jose Caballero, candidate for City Council District 7, introduced himself and his candidacy.

Ruth reported that clubmembers attended the Western Service Workers Association Dinner and that the Club received a certificate of appreciation. She reminded members to bring school supply donations for children of Western Service Workers Association.

OB Community Plan at Coastal Commission
Thursday, August 13
Chula Vista Council Chambers
276 Fourth Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910
(more details here)

Peninsula Community Planning Board
Thursday, August 20, 6:30pm
Point Loma Library

New Citizen Voter Registration
Wednesday, August 20, 10:15-12:15pm
3rd Avenue & B Street Plaza near Civic Theater

Ocean Beach Historical Society – the 1915 San Diego Exposition Road Race
Thursday, August 20, 6:00-8:30pm
United Methodist Church 1984 Sunset Cliffs Blvd

Ocean Beach Town Council
Wednesday, August 26, 7:00pm
Masonic Center, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd

Next Club meeting is the Annual Summer Potluck and BBQ on Sunday, August 23, 2015, 4-6pm.

Susan adjourned the meeting at 5:39pm.

Minutes taken by: Gretchen Newsom, Secretary

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